Clinical and Forensic Interviews in Child Sexual Abuse Allegations in South Africa: Literary Reflections on the Roles of Practitioners

Selelo Frank Rapholo, Zibonele France Zimba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Very few universities in South Africa offer postgraduate training on forensic social work, hampering the ability of social workers to conduct forensic interviews. This article is birthed by concerns raised by professionals (in particular, social workers) regarding their roles during the interviews with children alleged to be sexually abused. Professionals from across disciplines such as social workers, mental health practitioners, police officers and psychologists are involved in interviews with child victims of sexual abuse. In this conceptual article, we argue that each of these professionals must be vigilant about their roles and responsibilities when interviewing victims of child sexual abuse because if they conduct forensic interviews without proper knowledge of doing so, the prosecution and conviction of perpetrators might be compromised. The focus of this article is within the context of social work with an attempt to differentiate between the roles of forensic social workers and clinical social workers dealing with child sexual abuse allegations in South Africa. Forensic social work training and practice in South Africa is still a developing field of specialisation which requires experts to have generic social work interviewing skills. There have not been studies in South Africa that intensively focus on the difference between clinical and forensic interviews. We conducted an extensive and integrative review of literature as a research method to pursue the purpose of this article.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8444
JournalSouthern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • South Africa
  • child sexual abuse
  • clinical interviews
  • clinical social worker
  • forensic interviews
  • forensic social worker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health (social science)
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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